At the moment I stay in Visby; the old city on Gotland, rich on history and drama, and it’s the annual week of medieval festivities: Medeltidsveckan. Thousands of people are dressed up in old style clothes, competing in bow and arrow, doing tournaments, performing in all kinds of creativity. It’s impressive, to say the least.
I can’t say it’s something I would do — this kind of dressing up and cosplaying, but one thing is clear: everyone is enjoying themselves to the fullest. The ambition level here is top notch, from peasants and monks to kings and queens — and a few ladies of the night.
Entering a narrow cobblestone street and meeting one or several of these people feels like time travel, with only small details like smartphones and sometimes sneakers revealing their modern, comfortable origin. During the evening and night it almost becomes creepy, but fascinating and hypnotic. I can feel the tension heightens as colorful jested. comes toward me around a corner, only to smile when I hear them longing for a hamburger or chatting with friends or family on the phone. It’s a beautiful, surreal mindfuck.
What these good folks have done is created their own total environment, their own universe, and they live it constantly for a week. It IS a form of traveling in time, but also traveling in themselves. Without knowing too much about their intentions, I would say this is an incredible form of personal freedom.
I totally get it, because I’m doing the same thing myself — but as myself, as Fred the freelancer, author, film fan, mystery aficionado and so on in my own, modern reality. Personally I don’t need medieval clothes — but as everyone else, I still wear costume and props.
Instead of cosplay I do meplay, or in your case: youplay. What we all do is playing someone, like we did as kids playing secret agents, mom and dad, warriors, cops and robbers or whatever fascinated us during a short span of time — for some during the rest of their lives. It’s a test or being a human being already from the beginning; trying out new costume personalities and finding yourself.
Here people are doing a mental time travel, immersed in the history they love so much. It’s easy to see, as their posture changes depending on what clothes they wear or props they carry. It’s a one week transformation, for some a lot more. Impressive, indeed.
The human animal like to play. It connects us to the past, present and future. It taps into something for us very unique; the imagination — which is a different, but all so real, reality in our minds. Here it’s manifested to the outside, an abstract inner reality becomes a psychical thing.
They’ve taken creations from their consciousness and materialized it, connected it to others with the same view on life and suddenly they’re living in this ancient dimension of Swedish history. When we enter the imagination we also enter ourselves, and it’s as real as you and me here and now.
We’re all in this digital world we call twitter and social media. I’m wearing a costume in this reality, and one here with my cup of coffee. Both of them are equally important in my universe. Cosplay, meplay and youplay is not an escape — it’s life itself.
It’s easy to look down on those manifesting their inner adventures with costumes and swords, but in many ways they’re braver than us. They dare to openly go through a clear metamorphosis, if just for a few days or a week. They don’t give a fuck, and so should we.
It’s an act of bravery to be who you are, instead of hiding away not wanting to deal with one’s identity — if that’s not being very private of course. We’re all so different, and the ones we choose to play are endless. I’m constantly trying to stop pretending I’m someone I’m not. The opinion of others just doesn’t matter, even if it might sting a bit when we meet someone who don’t understand our path.
So open up your imagination, materialize the one you are inside and manifest that you in this traditional reality, whatever that you might want to be.